Japanese education for non-Japanese in Japan

Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs has decided to strengthen measures to help foreign residents learn Japanese, and plans to boost the number of language coordinators in local communities, agency officials said Wednesday.

Japanese education for non-Japanese in Japan
The agency has begun studying concrete measures at the Japanese language education subcommittee set up within its Council for Cultural Affairs, eyeing to implement them in fiscal 2009, starting in April 2009.

An increase in foreign residents in Japan has heightened conflicts between some foreigners and local Japanese people, primarily due to the lack of language skills among foreign residents, according to the officials.

Foreign residents tend to become isolated or fail to follow the rules set out by local municipalities such as rules on garbage disposal, they said.

Against this backdrop, a group consisting of 22 municipalities, such as Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, where foreign residents account for a considerable portion of the local population, has called on the government to strengthen language education for foreigners.

The language coordinators are likely to engage in activities such as providing teaching skills to language instructors, encouraging companies where foreign residents work to provide opportunities to learn Japanese, as well as offering consultation about daily life.

An agency official said, "It is desirable that the coordinators be able to have a certain level of language skills, and commit to the work as full-time professionals on a long-term basis."

The agency is thus planning to recruit the coordinators from those who have passed the Japanese language teaching competency test.

Currently, language teaching is mainly organized by citizens' organizations, which largely depend on volunteer instructors and do not have a systematic teaching curriculum, and most of the coordinators are part-timers and volunteers, according to the officials.

After the immigration law was revised in 1990, foreigners of Japanese descent have been allowed to immigrate to Japan for the purpose of settlement or work, and the number of immigrants from such areas as South America has been increasing.

In 2006, a record high of 2.08 million people registered as foreign residents in Japan.

AP - Kyodo
Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 19:21
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